Although Dobrzynski may rank among the hundreds of obscure composers, he was undoubtedly a competent artist and perfect craftsman of the first rank. Yet, unlike his contemporary Frederick Chopin, whose music on the whole, reflects that strong candid bent for Polish nationalism pooled by a unique style, Dobrzynski seems to have a diluted effect of `Polishness' at least in his piano concerto. Composed in 1824 - some three years before he commenced studies with Chopin's teacher Elsner (an advocate for Polish nationalism, as history books inform us) his piano concerto is littered with the typical early nineteenth century hallmarks to display brilliant bravura passages and technique to feed an insatiable audience who much preferred technical and dramatic display at the concerts. Although stunningly melodious and captivating which this recording offers its listeners, Dobrzynski's only concerto of (dare I say) over forty minutes duration would have fallen short from an easy and pleasant listening experience, had it not been for the exceptional versatility and gleaming performance of Emilian Madey - the pianist in this recording. Piano concerto buffs would undoubtedly recall that only recently (in 2012) the same piano concerto was released with Howard Shelley as the soloist on the National Institute Frederyck Chopin label. Although Howard Shelley is world renowned for his interpretation of early romantic piano music, and who I highly admire, a comparison between the two performers of the Dobrzynski is not possible since I am not familiar with the latter of the two recordings. I find it somewhat ironic that on one hand we have a superb English pianist, rendering the concerto for a Polish label, and on the other we have a wonderful Polish pianist representing the concerto on an English label.
Nonetheless, Madey is certainly an accomplished performer. From the liner notes we are told that sections of the original score were reintroduced for the present recording. (It is not clear why the original score was hacked and who was responsible for the revision). In addition Madey was apparently responsible for introducing the cadenza heard in the final movement. Madey's performance delightfully exposes all that Dobrzynski initially intended and so we are provided with a skilful soloist that combines "vivacity and an occasional youthful gaucheness with lyrical and decorative expressiveness" in the opening movement. The second movement marked `andante espressivo' contains a number of passages of lyrical beauty, and so fittingly interpreted I must say; the rondo finale maintains a sprightly energy from go to woe.
Dobrzynski's second symphony, written a decade later, bears all the traits promoting that turbulent fervour for Polish nationalism prevalent in 1830s, so aptly given in the key of C minor. With a `forceful orchestration', a `sombre introduction' of woodwinds that appear from nowhere introducing the main theme; a `turbulent polonaise', and the scoring of trumpets and trombones, etc, etc, the symphony is just as agreeable to one's listening experience. As opposed to his second symphony, Dobrzynski's overture to the opera Monbar, or The Filibuster which was also written in the 1830s follows operatic influences, surprisingly not of a Polish nature, but from German and Italian traits.
The Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Lukasz Borowicz deserves the highest praise. For many years Chandos has provided the serious music lover with outstanding recordings and this is no exception. If this latest `crystal clear' issue is a little too obscure, don't let that put you off. This is a wonderful addition to a fascinating library of rarely heard early romantic music from Poland.